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Aramaic is a Semitic language that was the everyday language of Israel during the period of the Second Temple from 539 BC to 70 AD. It was the original language of some of the books of Daniel and Ezra of the Old Testament and may have been the mother tongue of Jesus Christ.

Modern Aramaic is spoken today as a first language by many scattered, small, and largely isolated communities in the middle east. Some Aramaic dialects are mutually intelligible whereas others are not. In some communities, the Aramaic languages may be known under other names, such as Syriac, a dialect of Eastern Aramaic, that is used within Christian communities that separated over Christological issues from Eastern/Greek Orthodox Christian communities.

Syriac (also "Middle Syriac") is the classical, literary and liturgical language of Syriac Christians to this day. Its golden age was the fourth to sixth centuries. This period began with the translation of the Bible into the language: the Peshitta, the Syriac Bible, and the masterful prose and poetry of Ephrem the Syrian. Middle Syriac, unlike its forebear, is a thoroughly Christian language, although in time it became the language of those opposed to the Byzantine leadership of the church in the east.